Harvard Business School Launches Fund for Student Startups

Harvard Business School MBA student venture fundEarlier this week, Harvard Business School‘s  Arthur Rock Center for Entrepreneurship announced the launch of the Minimum Viable Product Fund (MVP Fund), which will offer $50,000 in total awards to MBA student entrepreneurs over the winter semester.

Proposed by first-year MBA students Dan Rumennik, Jess Bloomgarden, and Andrew Rosenthal, and funded by the Rock Center, the MVP Fund is based on the premise of the Lean Startup methodology, which focuses on rapid prototyping, a process that brings products to market as quickly as possible.

This methodology was developed by Eric Ries, an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Harvard Business School this academic year advising students and collaborating with faculty members on research and course development.

“For entrepreneurially-minded students at HBS, this fund alleviates the financial barrier preventing them from building initial prototypes or test products. This is the greatest challenge for people with an idea but no money,” says Rumennik.

“It also encourages students to start businesses while in school and to connect with more of their peers who want to do so as well. Finally, it’s a great opportunity for students to get experience managing a product as they go about the process of creating a business,” he adds.

The Rock Center aims to give $5,000 awards to each of ten teams. Teams may request more or less funding, but awards will not be greater than $10,000. Funded teams will be required to meet with a faculty mentor on a monthly basis, attend a monthly gathering of other MVP teams, and present lessons learned from the MVP program and process at the end of the semester.

“Interest in entrepreneurship pervades the HBS campus,” says professor Tom Eisenmann of the school’s Entrepreneurial Management Unit. “Our MBA students are presenting us with a steady flow of innovative ideas, and we hope the MVP Fund will enable them to further develop their concepts from an idea into an actual product.”

(image credit: Flickr user purpleslog, CC 2.0)

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